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NBCU to Marketers: Respect Your Elders

Posted by Sheila Shayon on November 5, 2010 02:00 PM

One more sign that the times, they are a-changin'… “Alpha Boomers” are the new “18-34 demographic” for advertisers over at NBC Universal. These aren't just your garden-variety boomers, or even so-called zoomers — Alpha Boomers, apparently, are the influential (but largely ignored) "leading-edge" of the 55+ crowd.

It's not exactly new or all that groundbreaking thinking, but it's still interesting to hear how the soon-to-be Comcast-owned NBCU ad sales team is pitching their branded media properties to other brand marketers. NBCU’s ad sales presentation yesterday to advertisers, media agencies and marketing execs focused on this “vibrant” 55-64 demographic and says that they shouldn't be dismissed, but targeted.

Alan Wurtzel, president of NBCU Research and media development (that's him above, discussing the impact of DVRs) in a press preview covered by Mediaweek, said, “Traditionally invisible to ad buyers, Alpha Boomers are very active consumers who have a lot of buying power, respond to advertising and are as tech savvy as younger consumers.”

NBC’s research on the 55-64 demographic dispels perceptions that they are technophobic, brand loyal beyond persuasion and have less disposable income for advertised products. It is the fastest-growing demographic group in the country and now numbers 35 million people who account for close to $2 trillion in annual spending. It's of particular interest to NBC, where the median age of its primetime audience is 50.

Wurtzel believes that current Nielsen age demographic rating groups are outdated. “Every seven seconds someone turns 55 and once they do, they are eliminated from the highest-end Nielsen demographic measurement: 25-54.”

“Our goal is to raise a discussion among CMOs at the various companies and to get Nielsen to begin offering ratings data for the 55-64 demographic,” he continued. “They have the data. It’s just a matter of creating the software and adding staff to distribute it.”

As for advertisers, outgoing CEO Jeff Zucker said NBCU is wooing tech companies – Bing, Droid, Apple – to advertise on CNBC. “What we’d like to see is these companies and their agencies start targeting AlphaBoomers as much as they do the 18-34 demographic,” he said.

NBCU’s presentation is intended to start the conversation rather than change the currency of the business overnight. "Until Madison Avenue tells us differently, 18-49 and 25-54 is our currency, and we'll try to deliver it," said Wurtzel.

“This is not something that is just going to affect NBCU," he added. "Down the road as more people leave the 25-54 demographic, it will affect every network.”

Alpha Boomers: turns out everything old is new again.

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